The deep cultural ties, partnership and the long relationship between India and the UK over the past 70 years was marked last night with a richly diverse showcase of the very finest dance and music from both nations. A succession of spectacular performances and multi-art form collaborations,highlighted the unique aspects of each distinct genre while using the universality of dance and music to create a seamless whole.
Directed by Sanjoy K. Roy with music composed by Sharat Chandra Srivastava and choreography advisor Gilles Chuyen, the Independence Gala featured two distinct sections with a mesmerising line-up of over 150 artistes from both countries performing in perfect synergy, cultural exchange and collaboration.
The evening began with a contiguous showcase over a score of music and dance performances including Indian regional and classical dances, tap dance, hip hop, opera and choir and was preceded by a thundering headline performance by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood and Israeli composer and musician Shye Ben Tzur in collaboration with Indian band Rajasthan Express who enthralled audiences with material from their critically acclaimed album, Junun.
Sanjoy K Roy, Managing Director of Teamwork Arts, said“Independence Gala, the highlight of the year-long UK-India Year of Culture 2017 programme, celebrated the relationship between India and United Kingdom based on the shared values of democracy, diversity and appreciation of the arts.
India’s flavourful cultural matrix created by a formidable past legacy and a new contemporary identity was brought to life and enriched by the exciting new collaborations with various UK artists presented on stage at the Southbank Centre last night.
It is the arts that celebrates differences and that bring us all together. The Independence Gala was a shining example of that.”
Performances featured remarkable new cross art form collaborations between Indian and UK artists including Kathak performance from internationally renowned dance exponent ANKH alongside one of the UK’s leading forces in tap dance, Old Kent Road, the heady, athletic and martial art-inspired Chhau dance with an added hip-hop dimension fromAvant Garde Dance Company who are at the forefront of London’s innovative hip hop/contemporary dance scene and pioneering inclusive dance company Step Change Studios delivered a contemporary performance of the classical Indian dance form, Bharatanatyam, alongside renowned Natyasri Dance Company.
Musical performances included British Indian composer and virtuoso sarod player Soumik Datta, Slovenian-born improv guitarist Igor Bezget and British-Austrian genre-defying percussionist Bernhard Schimpelsberger, a strong exponent of Indo-western rhythmic fusion, among many other acclaimed performers from both countries. British opera soprano Patricia Rozario regaled with her renditions building to a grand foot-stomping finale bringing together all artists including the acclaimed London Contemporary Voices and the Phillip Granell and the Phaedra Ensemble.
2017 has been declared the UK-India Year of Culture (India@UK2017) following the joint announcement in 2015 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then-Prime Minister David Cameron of a bilateral initiative to mark the deep cultural ties and the 70th anniversary of India’s Independence, a commitment that was reiterated during Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit to India in November 2016.
The Year of Culture is a year-long celebration of partnership and the long relationship between India and the UK. India and the UK, bound together for long through the inextricable threads of history, have been friends and allies who have facilitated mutual progress across culture, economics, commerce, and science. Both nations, strengthened by the uniqueness of their rich histories and cultural traditions, have a dynamic and culturally animated relationship.
The Independence Gala was presented by High Commission of India – London UK; Ministry of Culture – Government of India; Indian Council for Cultural Relations and curated by leading Indian festival producer Teamwork Arts with support from Diageo and BP.
The final performance as part of the UK-India 2017 Year of Culture will see the Bharat Symphony (India Symphony) to be performed by Dr L. Subramaniam and the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican Concert Hall on the 28th November 2017.